Toni Mirosevich grew up in Everett, Washington, in a Croatian-American fishing family, which was part of an extensive Slav immigrant community. Her father owned the fishing boat Western Maid, and made his living, primarily as a salmon fisherman, in the waters off Alaska. After his early death at forty-nine, her mother moved the family to her own birthplace, San Pedro, California, another Slav community. At seventeen, Ms. Mirosevich became a pacifist and spent the next ten years involved in pacifist activities; first in Monterey, California, then in Seattle, Washington, where she organized antiwar, antinuclear groups and made a living doing what was then—and is still, in many places—considered "man’s work." She has been a truck driver, swimming pool operator, laborer, attic insulator and weatherizer, delivery driver for the blood bank, janitor, teacher’s aide, and childcare worker.
In her early thirties, Ms. Mirosevich developed a chronic illness, which forced her return to school in 1985—and a surprising turn to writing. She began teaching as a lecturer in creative writing in 1991, and received her M.A. and her M.F.A. in creative writing at San Francisco State University. Firebrand Books published her first book of poetry and prose, The Rooms We Make Our Own, in 1996. That same year, Ms. Mirosevich became Associate Director of the Poetry Center and American Poetry Archives. Now a tenured professor in creative writing at San Francisco State University, she lives on the California coast with her partner of many years.
In recent years, Ms. Mirosevich has focused her attention on writing and teaching in multiple genres. Her award-winning work has appeared in numerous literary journals and magazines, including The Kenyon Review, Puerto del Sol, Harrington Lesbian Fiction Quarterly, San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, and Western Humanities Review, and in anthologies such as The Impossible Will Take a Little While (Basic Books, 2004), Revenge and Forgiveness (Henry Holt, 2004), Best American Travel Writing (Houghton Mifflin, 2002), and The Discovery of Poetry (Harcourt, 2001). Custom Words published her poetry collection Queer Street in 2005. Ms. Mirosevich has also two published chapbooks, My Oblique Strategies (Thorngate Road, 2005), which received the Frank O’Hara Chapbook Award, and Trio: Toni Mirosevich, Charlotte Muse, Edward Smallfield (Specter Press, 1995).
With fellowship support and residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, and Willard R. Espy Literary Foundation, Ms. Mirosevich began work on “The Western Maid,” a nonfiction manuscript about searching for—and finding—her father’s fishing boat thirty years after his death. From that work she culled “Digging,” “The Prize Inside,” “The Nickel,” and five others. Those tales, along with eighteen more, are Pink Harvest: Tales of Happenstance, winner of the First Series Award for Creative Nonfiction.
Photo of Toni Mirosevich by Shotsy Faust.